I hope you never lose your sense of wonder. You get your fill to eat, But always keep that hunger. May you never take one single breath for granted. God forbid love ever leave you empty handed. I hope you still feel small when you stand by the ocean. Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens. Promise me you'll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.... I hope you dance.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Begining a new home school year in a new place brings so much uncertainty.

It seems like a life time ago that the children and I did anything that resembled home schooling. I realize that home schooling is not just schooling at home but a way of life. But the way our life has been the past few years the intensity seems to have been way too over whelming. We have spent the summer in Seattle doing so many fun as well as educational outings that we can cram into one summer. I do not know. Had we had a car we probably would have done more!

The year 2008 has been a year of ups and downs more complicated than we could ever imagine. It was a difficult year to home school but the girls persevered. On days that I felt bad they worked and on good days we had fun and worked hard. I have felt so guilty that the girls fell behind but I keep telling myself we will eventually “catch up”. Moving to Seattle gave promise to fun adventures and a new “playground” to explore: hanging at the beach, exploring places like the Seattle Art Museum, or walking along the streets of the Seattle Underground to name a few.

I have found that the local public school district offers an enrichment center for home schoolers. This is exciting and gives me hope that the girls will be back on grade level for math!

You know it is amazing what happens when the TV goes away. The first few weeks after we moved to our condo in Mountlake Terrace we did not have cable. Emily was sooooo bored she picked up a book to read. I was worried. Her reading ability up till now has been poor. She would try to read and constantly asking what is this word or that, but not this summer when she began to read. :0) I am not too sure how much of it she “winged”, guessing words as she went along but gobbled up the book and loved it. She wanted more! So I got her the next “Boxcar Children’s” book in the series. She again stuck her nose in the book and did not come up till it was finished. She was so proud of her self as to how fast she was able to finish the book! :0) “Finally!, I thought, it has clicked. She is on her way to reading. Taking the back seated approach to reading worked!” I have to tell you I am so proud of her. :0)

In the past I have always told the girls that they can choose to home school or go to school. I have to admit, I have tried to threaten to send them to school to produce work….I am a horrible Mom for this I know. I never expected that one day someone would choose to go to school rather home school because they tell me how much they love being home and having me as their teacher.

This year Emily surprised me. After moving to Mountlake Terrace she announced that she wanted to go to school. The bully from her class was no longer an issue and she wanted to make friends in our new place.

I was totally taken aback. At first I could not figure our why. For many reasons I began to realize. I always wanted to live in Seattle, and home school my children there. The opportunities were limitless. The same time though I was going to miss her being with me and that she had chosen another to educate her. I know this is silly but it hurts so much. I must admit, I have not been the best home schooling Mom. I think I give Home schooling Mom a bad role model name. I wanted to do so much with the children but have found it difficult. Emily has ADHD, dyslexia and I feel certain has a reading disability. Part of me is very fearful that when she goes to school that the teacher will think, “What the hell has this woman done with this child? Look how far behind she is.”

When we pulled her from second grade her teacher told me it was the worst thing I could do to her. Well she certainly did nothing for her but instill poor self esteem for not being able to read on the same level as the other children or because Emily could not pass ONE spelling and vocabulary test. The teacher blamed us, her parents, for not working with her or encouraging her enough. I asked for dyslexia testing and suggested the possibility of reading disabilities because of all the problems I had with teaching her to read and spell. She provided the excuses that dyslexia was not tested until third grade, period. It was all Emily’s fault for not trying.

I do not want to see Emily fail again or have her spirit again crushed. To be teased and called dumb. I am reluctantly letting her go. My oldest tells me that I hold too tight to them and need to let them go, so that they can come back to me when the need me. I just do not think that I have the strength or energy to fight a new school or system.

Joseph is another story. I worry greatly about him attending a new school. They are placing him in a special education class that has 12 children with mixed issues. They cannot provide him with in house occupational therapy so they will bus him to another school for 30 minutes of therapy a week. That is a loss of 90 minutes one day a week. This class eat in the classroom and do not go to the playground when the other children are there. But hey, they attend all the assemblies and the school picnic! I just do not have a good feeling about this.

Joseph usually will not produce “work” for me. To home school Joseph I really would have to think outside the box. Sarah Elizabeth shared recently that she is thrilled with the prospects of having me all to herself. What a compliment. Now that I am thinking of home schooling Joseph, she is so worried that I will have no time for her because all my time will be spent with Joseph.

I am more confused than ever. I wish someone could help and provide insight or confirm my fears. My friends are all anti-home schooling so I cannot talk to them about it. I have been looking at home school support groups around Mountlake Terrace. One person who I spoke with about becoming a member of their group basically told be how horrible I was for allowing my children the decision for their own education and that I was really not committed to home schooling. Boy did she make me feel horrible. I guess because she is right. I had told the girls that I was not going to home school this year that I needed a break, but deep down I don’t want a break. I want my girls with me. Maybe this is just another control issue with me. Who knows. God I wish I knew. I wish I knew the answers to all this. I just want my children happy, with great self esteem who know that they are smart and very loved. I don’t think that is too much to ask.

Educating Heather was so easy. She was like a sponge and just absorbed everything. She was so smart I really could not mess her up! But I feel that with Sarah Elizabeth and Emily I need to do more to make sure that they are prepared for this big world. Heather’s track record with public school was the pits. She never really had a chance with high school. She was so sick her freshman year with meningitis/encephalitis and the repercussions it caused. She was left out from the friends she knew in grade school and on. They had all changed and she was not prepared for that. She was an “odd man out” and was left to fall in to the obis of what was left in the pool of people and ended up in the wrong crowd and made poor choices for friends. I had always treated her as a adult and social she was not ready for the dramas that come from high school. She struggled and lost. She was wrongly accused which lead to expulsion. She was tossed into a world of uncertainty and I truly did not think she would survive. She struggled hard and wears the scars to prove it, literally. At times I think home schooling Heather was a mistake. She was so smart and so bored with school. She was too smart for me too. Instead of educating her, I played school and never really got to enjoy the benefits of home schooling. Life during that time was also so unbelievably difficult. No horrible. The bad out weighed the good and I was drowning but could not fight enough to get help. I fell into a dark hole of depression and stayed there for years not knowing I was even there. I find myself almost back to that point now, but know it will never be that bad again.

In the past ten years I gave birth to two amazing children, cared for both my Mother and Grandmother as they died from cancer. Grieved for my Mother’s boyfriend who died five days after she did from a broken heart. Lost Jeff’s dad two years after my Mom. Jeff has had several major job changes in the past few years and fear that he suffers undiagnosed depression. Joseph has had to deal with so many issues since birth. All but two of my close friends have moved away.
BUT, I have four beautiful children, a husband who loves me. I am about to live in Seattle for a year~ a dream come true for me. So what the heck does this have to do with home schooling my children? Everything! Our life is so crazy yet never ceases to amaze me.

So I will throw all these fears and feeling to the great obis of the cyber world and leave it there. Instead I will pray harder for God to grace me with the answers I seek and guide me to path I am to take. I will take these few weeks that I have been blessed with to school the children and be grateful I had this time.

When we get back to Seattle I will put my big girl panties on and throw my shoulders back with pride that Emily was brave enough to speak up and support her decision. I will keep my nose in Joseph’s classroom and if necessary make changes that best support him. Sarah Elizabeth and I will cherish the special time we have together and hopefully grow even closer.

Stay tuned.